Ski-lift fire kills 155
in Kaprun, Austria
Updated: November 19, 2000
(Note: The following article is out of date, but I've left it online for
its historic value and as a memorial to the fire's victims.)
At least 155 skiers--and possibly
more--were killed when a car of the Gletscherbahn Kaprun 2 funicular burst into
flames above Kaprun, Austria on Saturday, November 11. The fire occurred inside
a tunnel as the funicular hauled skiers toward the slopes of the Kitzsteinhorn
Another dozen skiers escaped by
breaking a window with a ski.
Of the 155 known victims, most were from Austria and Germany--including a
group of 32 Austrians from the town of Wels in Upper Austria. American, British,
Czech, Dutch, Japanese, and Slovenian skiers were also reported killed on the
first day of the Austrian ski season.
Salvage operations were hampered by smoke in the tunnel until late Sunday,
more than 24 hours after the tragedy. The reason for the fire still isn't known.
The two cars of the Gletscherbahn Kaprun 2 funicular have safely transported
millions of skiers and tourists from Kaprun valley to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier
since 1974. The system was modernized in 1994 and passed a safety inspection in
October of this year. It is believed to be the first funicular ski lift to
operate primarily inside a mountain, with a tunnel making up 3500 meters of its
For more information on the tragedy and the funicular, visit the sites below.
How Could It Have Happened?
The British Broadcasting Corporation uses text and graphics to show how the fire
might have occurred. Also see the BBC's photos
of the tragedy and articles on other recent tunnel
fires in Europe.
The ski resort's official Web site has the latest information on the fire and
its aftermath, including an incomplete list of skiers and snowboarders who were
in Kaprun at the time of the fire but were not victims. The site also has
telephone numbers for the Kaprun telephone hotline and the Salzburg branch of
the Austria Red Cross.